Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fast and Cool, French Lentil Salad With Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts.

   So the hot hot hot weather has officially arrived here in Sonoma. This does not mean it still doesn't get chilly down in the 40's at night (good for the grapes) but the days and long evenings chill down slowly and dining out on the deck or patio or garden becomes a regular event. When it starts to heat up around here I tend to go for make-ahead stuff. I like things I can put together easily and quickly during the cool evenings before the hot days get rolling. Which is why this French lentil salad is a new favorite at our house. It's quick, easy, and can be made ahead. Toss in a green salad and a loaf of crusty bread and you're golden. This French lentil salad comes from  David Lebowitz and while working on the Summer menu for CocoaPlanet Modern French Cafe we thought it would be a perfect fit.  If you can, try and find LePuy French Lentils. Up close they look like beach stones.

I find they are superior, but any good French Lentil will work just as well.

French Lentil Salad


Here's What You Need: 

1 and 1/2 cups French Green Lentils
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs of thyme
'1 carrot peeled and finely diced
1 small rerd onion peeled and finely diced
1 rib of celery washed and finely diced

1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 and 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small shallot peeled and minced

The Finish:
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Here's What To Do:

Rinse the lentils, and put them in a pot with plenty of lightly salted water...

...the bay leaf, and the thyme.

Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes add the finely diced carrots, onion, and celery.

Simmer gently for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the lentils are tender. DO NOT overcook them.
While the lentils are simmering make the dressing.
Finely chop the shallot.

Mix the vinegar...

...olive oil...



...and mustard.

Whisk everything together well and set aside.
When the lentils are tender, remove the bay leaf and thyme springs...

...and drain them.

Pour the warm lentils into a bowl, and mix the dressing into them while they are still warm.

Stir the dressing in so that the lentils are all coated.
Let it cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, toast and chop the walnuts.
When the lentils are cooled, mix in the chopped parsley and walnuts.

Stir everything together well.

When the salad is cooled, stir in the crumbled goat cheese.

The reason to wait until it's cooled is so the goat cheese does not melt when added to the salad.
Serve it up with green salad and a loaf of crusty bread.

  This is a satisfying dish, great for hot Summer days and nights, and a perfect addition to any backyard buffet! Coming up next...Chocolate and a special give-away!  Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hot Or Cold, This Indian Chicken Chaat Salad Works Both Ways For Warm Weather Cooking.

   We rushed into Summer this last week, even though it's still Springtime. The temps hit 99 to 100 and the last thing I wanted to do was leave my air conditioned office where we were working on a script and have to cook anything.  No heat, no flames. When it gets that hot I don't even feel particularly hungry. Of course that's me and not everyone else around here, so I cook... but just barely. I wanted something Indian since a lot of what's been going on involves French food for CocoaPlanet Modern French Cafe.
   I started thinking about chicken salad, mainly joking around... chick sal sand.... etc and that's when I thought why not a classic Indian Chaat Salad? A chicken chaat salad to be exact. It would be fast, cool, and... leftovers... yes that's important. Served hot or cold that salad seemed just perfect. Another plus, I had everything right on hand. Can't beat not having to go to the market to cook a meal.
   This salad can be made up in less than an hour, you can use uncooked chicken but if you want to be extra speedy, get some cooked chicken, even leftover cooked chicken will work for this. I had cooked a couple of chicken breasts ahead of time. I pan steamed them and they were ready to roll.  So gentlemen and gentleladies, start your chicken.

Chicken Chaat Salad

Here's What You Need:
1 lb of cooked or uncooked chicken breast cut into cubes.
1 large russet potato, unpeeled
1 onion finely chopped
1 large shallot finely chopped
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbs vegetable oil, (I use coconut oil)
1 serrano chili finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt , or to taste
1/2 cup of plain yogurt whipped smooth
2 Tbs lime juice
1 red bell pepper finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Here's What To Do:
Put the potato in a small pot of water to cover and bring it to a boil. Boil until tender, about 10 minutes or so.
Let the potato cool, then peel it chop it into cubes and set it aside (this can be done in advance.)

Heat the oil in a skillet or kadhai on medium high heat.

When it's hot, toss in the chicken (if you are not using precooked chicken) onion, ginger, shallot, and serrano chili.

Then add in the garam masala, fenugreek leaves, and salt.

Cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 5 to 10 minutes.)
If you are using cooked chicken once the vegetables are translucent and soft, you can add it in, and warm it up.

Now, add in all the yogurt.

Cook until most of the moisture in the yogurt is absorbed. This takes about 5 minutes.
Mix in the lime juice.

Now add the cooked cubed potato...

...the bell pepper and cilantro...

...and cook for another 3 minutes.

Dish it out and serve it up!

   This is a great salad and works both hot or cold. We wound up wrapping in in  flatbread as roll ups  since I was too lazy to get the chapattis fired up. It would also work great in rice paper wraps or lettuce roll ups.

   This is definitely going to be part of my Summer meal rotation as it's a great make ahead , easy serve weekday meal!  Coming up next, a simple vegetarian lentil salad also good hot or cold, perfect for Summer fun days. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fast and Spicy. The Cauliflower Your Mom Warned You About.

   Actually not really. This cauliflower dish is simply easy, tasty, quick to fix and perfect for any weekday meal... even if every time I fix it my husband says the house smells like the Lower East Side circa 1920. But I don't care, cauliflower is good, inexpensive and one of the most versatile vegetables out there. It's also pretty and the spring-like colors of this cruciferous wonder out there right now remind me of a basket of parti-colored Easter Eggs.

   Cauliflower comes in a variety of colors, purple, pinks, greens, yellows and plain old white, so when I was at the market I was drawn to all the pretty colors and decided I needed more Gobi in my life. Also, they were on sale... just sayin' . So, I chose a brilliant deep golden one and took it home.
  I wanted a simple way to cook this cauliflower, something that wouldn't take all day as we're in the midst of a script and I couldn't spend hours in the kitchen, so I turned to a basic Gujarati sabzi, a simple dry curry vegetable dish, and to speed things up, I roasted the cauliflower before cooking. This allowed me extra work time as I could pop it into the oven on a baking sheet get some work done while it roasted, and then do the final assembly quickly. I highly recommend roasting as it really brings out a lot of flavor, and as I said, keeps things moving. Also I'm not nuts about filling the house with the aroma of boiling cauliflower.

Simple Gobi Sabzi

Here's What You Need:

For The Cauliflower : 
1 medium cauliflower broken into florets
1/8 tsp turmeric
2 Tbs vegetable oil, I use coconut oil
2 serrano chilies slit
1 peeled and crushed shallot
1/2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chili
1 finely chopped onion
1 fresh tomato peeled and chopped or diced chopped canned tomatoes
1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro

For the Spice Paste:
1/2  cup of water
1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 Tbs yogurt

Here's What To Do: 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the cauliflower into florets.

Place them into a bowl and drizzle them with 1 Tbs of coconut oil and 1/8 tsp turmeric.

Mix everything around well so the cauliflower is coated.
Place it on a baking sheet and pop it into the 400 degree oven to roast for about 20 minutes.

Check in and stir it around. When it starts to get slightly crispy-looking, it's done.

Take it out and set it aside.
Mix together the ingredients for the Spice Paste.
Whip the yogurt.

Mix it with the water.

Add in the Kashmiri chili, garam masala, turmeric, and coriander powder.

Mix it together well.
Slit the serrano chilies.

Crush the shallot and chop the ginger.

In a skillet or kadhai heat 2 Tbs of vegetable oil.

When the oil is hot toss in the 2 slit serrano chilies. Let them sizzle for about 10 seconds then take them out and set them aside.

Now add in the cumin seeds.

When the seeds start to crackle  add in the ginger, shallot, dried red chili and saute everything for about 2 minutes.

Now add the chopped onion...

...and diced tomato.

Let them saute for about 2 minutes then pour in your spice paste.

Mix it in well and cook it until it starts to thicken and the oil seperates.

Now add in the previously roasted cauliflower.

Cook it until the cauliflower is warm again and cooked through.

Check it for seasoning and serve it up.
Garnish it with the serrano chilies and sprinkle it with the chopped fresh cilantro.

Just don't eat the serranos. We took our lunch out into the garden.

cauliflower, cauliflower sabzi, Indian food
   The cauliflower in this dish can be roasted ahead, the spice paste made ahead... all in all this is why this dish makes a great lunch or dinner side. Enjoy it with rice, chapattis or any American main course. Coming up next more Seasonal Indian dishes and a surprise giveaway from the gang at CocoaPlanet Tasting Room and Modern French a Golden Ticket! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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